House of Lords orders champagne worth £90,000 in 2023

New data reveals that nearly £90,000 worth of champagne was purchased for House of Lords events and from its gift shop in the past year, marking the highest expenditure in five years. The Scottish National Party (SNP), which acquired details of the sales amounting to 1,589 bottles, argued that this underscores the House of Lords’ perceived antiquated nature amid a prevailing cost of living crisis.

Tommy Sheppard, the SNP MP for Edinburgh East, criticized the unelected Lords, who receive £342 per day merely for attendance, stating that such a parliament is unfit to truly represent the people. Freedom of information disclosures disclosed that 1,589 bottles of champagne were acquired over the year at a total cost of £88,987, approximately £56 per bottle. This represents a slight increase from the 2022 total, where 1,580 bottles were sold at a cost of £85,462.

Given the SNP’s opposition to the unelected second chamber, it has no representation in the House of Lords. Sheppard emphasized the contrast between struggling voters dealing with financial challenges and the unelected Lords enjoying champagne, emphasizing the disconnect with the cost of living crisis.

A spokesperson for the House of Lords countered by stating that all alcohol, including champagne, sold within the House of Lords is sold at a profit. The spokesperson clarified that most champagne is purchased by visitors from the gift shop and consumed outside the parliament by members of the public. Furthermore, the champagne is sold at banqueting events to organizations or individuals hosting events in the House of Lords, with no taxpayer funding involved.

The spokesperson emphasized that the House operates on a profit basis for the sale of alcohol, including champagne. The majority of champagne transactions occur in the gift shop, where visitors make purchases for consumption outside the parliamentary premises. Additionally, the champagne is sold at events hosted in the House of Lords, with proceeds contributing to the financial sustainability of these functions.

Despite these explanations, the SNP remains critical of the spending habits within the House of Lords, particularly during a period of economic hardship for many citizens. Sheppard highlighted the stark contrast between the lavish lifestyles of unelected Lords, who can afford such expenditures, and the everyday struggles faced by the general public.

The SNP MP argued that the past year had been defined by a cost of living crisis, resulting in a decline in living standards and an increase in poverty. Sheppard characterized these issues as foreign to the members of the House of Lords, who continue to lead opulent lifestyles.

As the debate continues, it raises questions about the perceived accountability and representation within the House of Lords, with critics like the SNP pointing to instances of seemingly extravagant spending as evidence of a detachment from the concerns of the wider population. The House of Lords, on the other hand, maintains its position that the sales contribute to the financial viability of the institution and are not a burden on the taxpayers. The discourse around the House of Lords’ expenditures is likely to persist as the political landscape grapples with broader issues of fairness, representation, and public perception.

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